by Airman 1st Class Brooke P. Beers
18th Wing Public Affairs
7/30/2012 - KADENA AIR BASE, Japan -- A Citizen Airman, an award set aside for Air Force Reservists, is someone who can be excellent in all they do in their Air Force career and allow that excellence to pour into their civilian lives.
Staff Sgt. Rachel Barnes, winner of the 2011 Citizen Airman of the Year Award for a Reserve Chaplain Assistant, is a prime example of what being a Citizen Airman is all about.
Although she doesn't work full time, Barnes has still managed to have spent more than 120 hours on 216 services that uplifted 105,000 members all while completing 24 semester hours on the path of earning her aeronautics degree.
On top of her Air Force duties, Barnes is in the process of getting her pilot's license and is dedicating most of her time to being a first-time mom.
She says that being a Reservist allows her to be more flexible with her life and that it gives her the feeling of having the best of both worlds.
"It's a shock and an honor, but I am contributing this award to the team," said Barnes. "When the team wins, you're a part of that."
As a Reservist, working with a unit only one weekend a month and two weeks a year, can present challenges. Without that continuity of going to work every day, she faces the challenge of diving into a work environment that's swinging full force.
"Sometimes it's hard because I'll come in and they will have changed a process," she said "But everyone is so helpful."